Friday, January 30, 2015

Sherri Felt Dratfield

Rip Current

A man in orange trunks ducks under high breakers,
far from the lifeguard stands,
in the rip-tide sea.

The man recedes from view,
foisted to and fro all out to sea.

The guards detect a sliver of orange
bobbing like a buoy.

The craft dispatched,
rowers clamber on. 

The boat pierces breakers like a bullet,
approaches the now vanished orange thread.

The man - retrieved,
plopped on sand like a noonday catch,
frantically pumped with mouth-to-mouth,
with chest thumping arms -

is dead.
I have learned to swim across the current grabbing me;

I don't lash opposite the thrusts,
against the under tow.

As though it were a beloved
in a sudden mood -

bullheaded, dogged -
I match the current stroke for stroke,

kick across its belly,
until it tires of my moxie.

The sandpiper wears its white feather noose when grown,
is not strangled.

The seagull gobbles a plastic bag as hungrily as crab,
then scavenges a straw.

The duck quacks for more bread,
although, before dawn, a cat

caught the last of her eight ducklings.
Lifeguards keep watch
till Summer's end.

Sherri Felt Dratfield’s second collection of poetry, Water Vigils, was recently published by Finishing Line Press. The City, Sherri’s debut book of poetry was published in 2013. Joan Larkin recently selected Sherri’s poem "Hallelu" as a finalist in the Jewish Current’s Raynes Competition.

Andreas Neeser


—for H.

Cawing descent toward the sleeping tree.
The seeds have been reaped, the sun
goes down at six.

announce messages from the sky,

they call and cut up the spirits,

in the half-light,

they sharpen their glances.

A bright vision grasping stony pastures.

And if they should squawk words,
we wouldn’t hear them.

Three Sisters

I float on leg-long logs,

skinned dead wood, not a breath of wind,
yet, portside,

on the stump, a complete stranger’s hair
forgets itself.

Over there, ahead, three peaks,

the mist draws soft contours,

the slate sisters blur up the valley—
aghast, I turn on the open lake.

For years my only brother,

I crawl to the rest area on the shore—
in the sallow light

I am nothing but my darkest word.

"Twilight" and "Three Sisters" were previously published in Grass Grows Inward, translated from the German by Marc Vincenz (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014).

Andreas Neeser is a Swiss poet and author who currently lives 
in Suhr near Aarau. From 2003 to 2011, he ran the Aargauer Literaturhaus in Lenzburg, Switzerland. He has won the Feldkircher Lyrikpreis (2008) and the RAI Bozen Poetry Prize of the Lyrikpreis Meran (2006). He has published numerous novels, short story and poetry collections. His  most recent poetry collection is, Die Sonne ist ein nasser Hund (Wolfbach Verlag, 2006). His novel, Zwischen den Wassern, was recently released (2014) by Haymon Verlag, Innsbruck. 

Irina Mashinski

The Border

            for Sasha
    I flew over Norway, 
I had lived in a cage – a landscape of frost covered wires
  and then broke free,
    flew away, saw fiords -
and lost fear.

Cliffs shone pure slate, their after-rain luster 
when I flew over Norway, 
I was finally out, out – and you
were five, you slept on the woolen sleeve of my Moscow
winter coat in the bliss of the stratosphere.
Just think: I can walk, hear whispers, see hues the way
            dry leaves  fall

with a hollow sound
of clapping hands
into empty symphony hall -
as my limbs, my eye lashes, and  the lines of a poem are free

to flow
over me,
not bound anymore by my eyelids
    nor by the gates
          of that thirst for
the border below.
(How it  gleams in twilight!-

the rim of a forest lake,
            moraine ragged edge).

The end of the world. For Ray Bradbury

Time. It belongs to us,
not more than, say, the moon,

Time, oblivious to whatever
a wife hears in the evening
from some misanthrope on the couch with a newspaper.

She listens patiently to the appalling details
of  the latest news,
and she sneaks out to bury them in the recycling bin

with an iron weight on top

Nobody sees her but the moon.

So, it’s tomorrow -  the last day of the world, at least
until the evening when it is once again
second to last.

Irina Mashinski is a bilingual poet, editor and translator, the author of nine books of poetry in Russian. Irina Mashinski’s work has appeared in Poetry International, Atlanta Review, International Poetry Review, Fulcrum, The London Magazine, St. Petersburg Review, and other literary journals and anthologies and has been translated into several languages. She is the co-editor (with Robert Chandler and Boris Dralyuk) of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry  (Penguin Classics, 2015), as well as co-founder (with the late poet Oleg Woolf) and current editor-in-chief of the StoSvet literary project (, which includes literary journals Storony Sveta (in Russian ) and Cardinal Points (in English).  She received Russian America (2001) and Maximilian Voloshin (2003) Awards in poetry, and, with Boris Dralyuk, First Prize in the 2012 Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Translation Prize competition.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ming Di

The Prototype 

Adam saw emptiness when he first opened
his eyes, and begged God to create you from
the same mud, and named you Lilith, and made

you the first couple. But you were naughty
and wanted to be on top, like him. How dare you!
So you abandoned Eden for the East.

Then God created Eve from Adam’s rib, and made
them happily ever after. Later on, dear humble Eve
became greedy and wanted to take over the top, toplessly

plus commission.  But you couldn’t care less, you'd
already multiplied with the snake: Carmen, Salome,
Barbie, Lolita… Dora Lolita is a little star that glows

on her own,  glimmering her pale fire and humming her little tune,
occasionally appearing in the geometry of his thinking—
when Nadam sees her, he captures her and reproduces her.

* Inspired by a sculpture of Lilith. “Same mud” comes from the Chinese mythology of the snake-body Goddess Nüwa who shaped humans from clay, men and women. Nadam=Nabokov+Adam.

(Translated from the Chinese by the author and Neil Aitken)

(First published in Poetry International/SDSU, Issue 18/19)

Ming Di (pen name of Mindy Zhang) is a Chinese poet and translator living in the USA, author of six collections of poetry and four books of translation. She is editor of New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry 1990-2012 (Tupelo Press, 2013). Her own work has been translated into English (River Merchant’s Wife, Marick Press, 2012), German (Ein Leeres Haus, DJS Chapbook, 2013), Spanish (Luna fracturada, Valparaiso Ediciones, 2014), and French (Histoire de famille, forthcoming in France 2015).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lee Upton

The Coast of Apples

I would fly to the coast of apples.
            —Euripides, translated by Frederick Morgan

When I flew to the coast of ghosts,
there, on the white branch, sat Euripides.
At once, I tried to peel the skin

off my own anxiety. Euripides,
I said, you with the glorious name,
what do you want with apples

now? Flying, I can understand.
Although there are problems enough.
I’ve flown every month

for a year. Too often my flight was detoured
to the coast of bullets, the coast of salt,
the coast of abandoned tires—

which is not much better than flying
to the coast of thistles
but preferable to the coast of briars

next to the coast of radioactive waste.
At last when I stopped talking
Euripides peered down and said to me:

I bet the wings were the hardest part.
That, and the rest of the horse.

previously published in Boston Review

Lee Upton is the author of the The Tao of Humiliation: Stories; the essay collection Swallowing the Sea: On Writing & Ambition Boredom Purity & Secrecy; the novella The Guide to the Flying Island; and a fifth collection of poetry, Undid in the Land of Undone, among other books.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Vincent Cellucci

infanticide sunsets

for Robert Creeley

spindle over the shoulder tossing gills
pulse to pleasure covered knees locked
gusher under sea,  father flattens family
one must be a sniper & assassinate the adult
committing infanticide in us all
don’t ask absence’s offerings    ask sandboxes
empty swing sets, slides, or the rivers full of kittens
the mirrors who’ve seen enough faces
as the seer darkness the sword stomachs
or the sea tempests sun horizons
condoms machines coffee grinders bone xrays
trunks luggage glass condensation gold thieves
nets fish: gimmie a break absence & i’ll return the century

a child raised right taking back my first stolen piece of candy

from above the andes

                             a spine          of suns    across       the seas
                                                                                       exhales absence on my arm
                                                                                       breaks cloud wakes
                                                            hiding heavens’
                                                            placidity abandoned here when
                           sun evolved
                              soot books
                                               you have machines to read                                                                 
                                                                  drones to rove                                                                     
                                                                                                          all hours
                                                                                                          their hours
                            army of earth liberated combustion       the globe smothered internal
                                       our callouses refused
                                                                       debts acquiesced
                                                                                                           this blaring silence
                           jets us      hands to dreams
                                                                      fusion pursed
                                    sun pets our hides
                                    river lassos my larynx
                                             constricts blood
                                             tugs these buoys
                      bobbing in the tide
                                                                        we must not survive


I’m the styrofoam
                          sleepyhead to seduce you
                icicle fangs
                melt for sunrise
  between thighs  slowpoke round back
  my morning attack
                          sheathes yr
                             heavenly chambers
go extravagant

                                    my sister’s
                                    a slap
                                    & the hardest kick
                                    to the balls I know
the secret of no love
judged by behavior
bye bye love
bye bye savior
                               lions kneel
                               gazelles govern
        & silent words sacrifice poems
let you down, have idiosyncrasies, dents,
                             favorite colors
                                     and foods
why not the rum cake our parents served
                    at their divorce
                           now I taste

                             tucked like words in wills         

the howling outside my door
                           does not disturb me
just as freedom makes the best slaves

Vincent Cellucci wrote An Easy Place / To Die (CityLit Press, 2011) and edited Fuck Poems an exceptional anthology (Lavender Ink, 2012). Come back river, his first chapbook, a bilingual Bengali-English translation collaboration with the poet and artist Debangana Banerjee is recently available from Finishing Line Press. _A Ship on the Line, a battleship-collaboration with poet Christopher Shipman was just released by Unlikely Books. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs

The Moon Jar

As the moon descends into the well

the jar inside the well

it reveals a great

emptiness that is the jar

summoning others who will come

after the fact of the jar

disappears inside the moon.


A House in Nicosia

White curtain fluttering as if a childish hand
bats at distance, flicks

plaster off ramshackle walls
papered with a politician’s face.

In Time’s slow fray

he’s a target
practice for tower guards

overlooking a football field
of plastic bags, green spray cans, a train’s
outline heaving across the bleacher’s height.

Down concrete steps
a diaspora
of feral cats scatter—
the only ones, ribbed with longing, who can cross.

I was talking about a childish hand

writing that wide and mortal pang
called History,

that human cry
forced from home one morning
leaving a smear.

Through dust and shadow, I see tarnish,
bullhorns, dogs, a crash
of drawers, metal spoons and forks,

a long crawl
space under pine boards
torn up revealing a secret

darkness where no one hid
the money, what’s left of the canopy

frame’s blue drapes
that her husband pulled back
to make love to her.

Young, they left the balcony doors open.
Boys laughed and kicked a ball past midnight.

Now the mattress straddles a threshold
summoning like tides to a raft
tied to the firmament.

Tell me.

If two loves claim this house
to whom does it belong?

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs is the author of Paper Pavilion, recipient of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize and the New England Poetry Club’s Sheila Motton Book Award, and Song of a Mirror, finalist for the Tupelo Snowbound Chapbook Award. Recently, her prose and poetry have appeared in Asian American Literary Review, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Cimarron Review, Line Break (AAWW), Mascara Review, Poetry NZ, SOLO NOVO, among others; and have been anthologized in Echoes Upon Echoes (Asian American Writers’ Workshop 2003), Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond (W. W. Norton 2008), One for the Money: The Sentence as a Poetic Form (Blue Lynx Press 2012), and Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence (White Pine Press 2015). She has also received grants from the Daesan Foundation and the Minnesota Arts Board. Currently, Jennifer is associate professor of English at St. Olaf College where she teaches poetry, creative nonfiction, and Asian American studies.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hélène Cardona

Dancing the Dream

This is a story of flight,
a story of roots,
a story of grace.
I am the wandering child.
Every journey knows a secret destination.
I'll find my way without a map, rely
on memory embedded in my mother's embrace
on stormy nights at the foot of the Alps.
I'll find home in the heart
of a rose, retrieve my soul,
anchored in the still point
where psyche rests,
the presence of mystery so luminous
I'm infused with its essence.
I walk the labyrinth, let
go of confined desires.
I rip the vine intertwined around
the umbilical, liberate the letters of
my name. They soar above the ocean       
for the falcon to reclaim.
I’m dancing the dream
on the brink of barren ravaged realms.
From volcanic pumice and pure clay
I reap scrumptious blossoms of love,
earth’s sweet and savory ambrosia.

From Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013)

Peregrine Pantoum

Begin with a dream,
snowcapped mountains and rivers of salmon.
Green rays cleave the heart of winter
dancing at the edge of the lake.

Snowcapped mountains and rivers of salmon
echo laughter and lilac sonatas
dancing at the edge of the lake.
Fairy tales beckoning days on end

echo laughter and lilac sonatas,
my grandmother’s exquisite designs.
Fairy tales beckoning days on end,
wisdom and melancholy build fires,

my grandmother’s exquisite designs
engineered by elves. I sleep with fervor.
Wisdom and melancholy build fires,
myriad books and soulful dwellings

engineered by elves. I sleep with fervor
on slippery roads, frozen paths.
Myriad books, soulful dwellings,
enchanted forests ripen with children’s riddles.

Slippery roads, frozen paths
drive mazes of mind.
Enchanted forests ripen with children’s riddles,
exiles and travels, forced and chosen.

Driving mazes of mind,
tales of torture ring from the land of gods,
exiles and travels, forced and chosen.
Sirens and magic flutes ablaze,

Tales of torture ring from the land of gods.
Green rays cleave the heart of winter,
Sirens and magic flutes ablaze.
Begin with a dream.

From Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013),
first published in Barnwood Mag

Hélène Cardona is a poet, literary translator and actress, author of Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013), winner of the Pinnacle Book Award and the 2014 Readers’ Favorite Award, The Astonished Universe (Red Hen Press, 2006), Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016), and Ce que nous portons (Éditions du Cygne, 2014), her translation of What We Carry by Dorianne Laux. She holds a Master’s in English & American Literature from the Sorbonne, taught at Hamilton College and LMU, and received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut & the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. She is Chief Executive Editor of Dublin Poetry Review and Levure Littéraire, and Managing Editor of Fulcrum. Publications include Washington Square, World Literature Today, Poetry International, The Warwick Review, Irish Literary Times, and many more.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bud Smith

You Can Remain Anonymous

from time to time
we descend the fire escape declaring war on 173rd street

on Friday night
there was a wall of cops on the corner
a girl was abducted
in an unmarked van gunpoint, ski masks children saw it all crouching behind
the chain link fence
in the dog park

our problems:
the corner store is closed
we have to walk uphill to get beer there’s construction
they’ve torn up the roadI loop around forever
searching for a spot
“in the city it’s not called a road” “who fucking cares?”

the subway will soon contain
all the hellstorms of Hell itself and we will sweat
the fruit-stands return
but nothing is ripe yet
I eat it anyway
like a world destroyer
nothing sadder than a bland pear

Saturday, a squad card
rives all up and down the block blasting a looped statement
“if anyone has information regarding an incident
involving a missing person
and a white unmarked van driven away in the night
please contact the NYPD
you can remain anonymous”

for lunch I make eggs
I make bacon
the toast is perfect
best toast I’ve ever toasted we sit at the yellow table slowly sipping hot coffee eyeing each other up

all while the cop cars slowly circle below playing that statement

she’s afraid. I’m afraid
it’s like we will be dragged off at any moment
by our hair, by our teeth
by the veins of our heart however they’d figure out how to do that
criminal masterminds

Monday, at her desk
her co-workers ask her about it
“the thing” It gets much coverage
all across the office
by lunch, a girl has found some info online that says: “over the weekend persons of interest came forward and confessed to police that
they were involved in the ‘abduction’ on 173rd street. It seems
a young man was picking up
his girlfriend for a
SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY and startled her. she screamed
she got in the van. they drove away to the party. had cake.
had balloons that was it. happy birthday”

and I stand
at my corner store window peering into the darkness
wondering when we’ll crash land into Heaven, and get our just rewards for all of our uphill struggles
never, probably
I crunch into a hard nectarine.

previously published in the Olentangy Review

Bud Smith works heavy construction in New Jersey. He lives in NYC. His recent book is the novel F-250.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dennis Maloney

from Visions of Tao Yuan Ming


I heard a knock at my door early this morning
and in my haste put my robe on inside out.
I went to the door, asking “Who’s there”?
It was a concerned farmer who arrived
with a jug of wine from far away.
He suspected that I was at odds with my time.
“Shabbily dressed under a thatched roof
is not the way a gentleman should live.”
The world agrees on a course
and hopes you will join the muddy game.
My thanks for your suggestion old man,
but it’s my nature to be out of step.
Though you can learn to pull the reins,
to work against your nature is a real mistake.
So let’s just have another drink together,
there’s no turning back my carriage now.



I once made a distant journey
to the shore of the eastern sea,
the road long and far,
the way made difficult with waves and wind.
What drove me to make this journey?
It seems it was hunger me.
I labored hard to fill my belly,
when just a little would have been enough.
Realizing this was not an honorable course,
I turned my carriage and headed home.


A shade orchid grows in the courtyard
but its perfume is hidden, awaiting a breeze.
A fresh wind and suddenly its aroma
distinguishes it from the weeds.
Traveling on and on, one loses the path
but by trusting the Way, one might get through.
Awakening at last, I think of turning back.
“When the birds are gone the bow is put away”.

Dennis Maloney is the editor and publisher of the widely respected White Pine Press in Buffalo, NY. He is also a poet and translator.  His works of translation include: The Stones of Chile by Pablo Neruda, The Landscape of Castile by Antonio Machado, Between the Floating Mist:Poems of Ryokan,and The Poet and the Sea by Juan Ramon Jimenez.  A number of volumes of his own poetry have been published including The Map Is Not the Territory: Poems & Translations and Just Enough. His book Listening to Tao Yuan Ming is forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press. He divides his time between Buffalo, NY and Big Sur, CA.